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DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY


Following are the minutes of the regular Faculty Council meeting of February 19, 2001.


<signed>

John R. Durbin, Secretary
The General Faculty



MINUTES OF THE REGULAR FACULTY COUNCIL MEETING OF

February 19, 2001

The fifth regular meeting of the Faculty Council for the academic year 2000-2001 was held in Room 212 of the Main Building on Monday, February 19, 2001, at 2:15

ATTENDANCE.

Present: Mark I. Alpert, Anthony P. Ambler, Katherine M. Arens, Effraim P. Armendariz, Neal E. Armstrong, Matthew J. Bailey, Joyce L. Banks, Brigitte L. Bauer, Gerard H. Béhague, David G. Bogard, Dean A. Bredeson, Cindy L. Carlson, Michael J. Churgin, Richard L. Cleary, Michael B. Clement, John R. Durbin, Sheldon Ekland-Olson, Dorie J. Gilbert, Lita A. Guerra, Marvin L. Hackert, Barbara J. Harlow, James L. Hill, Martha F. Hilley, Sharon D. Horner, Judith A. Jellison, Arlen W. Johnson, Manuel J. Justiz, Elizabeth L. Keating, Ward W. Keeler, Karrol A. Kitt, Robert C. Koons, Stefan M. Kostka, David A. Laude, Laura E. Luthy, Katheryn Coveley Maguire, David R. Maidment, Glenn Y. Masada, Gregory R. Murphy, Melvin E. L. Oakes, Patricia C. Ohlendorf, Alba A. Ortiz, Thomas G. Palaima, Bruce P. Palka, Theodore E. Pfeifer, William C. Powers, Mary Ann R. Rankin, Elizabeth Richmond-Garza, Daron K. Roberts, Victoria Rodriguez, David J. Saltman, Juan M. Sanchez, Robert N. Schmidt, Cynthia W. Shelmerdine, Mark R. V. Southern, Michael P. Starbird, Laura T. Starks, Salomon A. Stavchansky, Paul Randall (Randy) Thompson, Janice S. Todd, John W. Walthall, James R. Yates, Katy B. Zarolia.

Absent: Christopher O. Adejumo, Victor L. Arnold, Joel W. Barlow, Phillip J. Barrish, Harold W. Billings, Douglas G. Biow, Lynn E. Blais, Daniel A. Bonevac, Richard A. Cherwitz, Dana L. Cloud (excused), Patricia L. Clubb, Donald G. Davis, Patrick J. Davis (excused), Desley A. Deacon, John D. Dollard (excused), Edwin Dorn, Minette E. Drumwright (excused), Larry R. Faulkner (excused), Shelley F. Fishkin, G. Charles Franklin, Robert Freeman, Nell H. Gottlieb, Von Matthew (Matt) Hammond, Thomas M. Hatfield, Sharon H. Justice (excused), Kerry A. Kinney, Richard W. Lariviere, Steven W. Leslie, William S. Livingston, Margaret N. Maxey, Robert G. May (excused), Francis L. Miksa, Elmira Popova, Johnnie D. Ray, Linda E. Reichl, Andrew M. Riggsby, Dolores Sands, Roberta I. Shaffer, Joel F. Sherzer (excused), Lawrence W. Speck, Ben G. Streetman, Teresa A. Sullivan, Daniel A. Updegrove, James W. Vick, N. Bruce Walker, Ellen A. Wartella, Barbara W. White (excused).




Voting Members:
51
present,
24
absent,
75
total.
Non-Voting Members:
11
present,
23
absent,
34
total.
Total Members:
62
present,
47
absent,
109
total.


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I.
REPORT OF THE SECRETARY.

There were no questions about the written report (D 1125-1128).

II.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES.

The secretary reported that the names of Lon Heuer and Dyan Hudson had been misspelled in the original version of the minutes (D 1131), but had been corrected. The minutes of the Regular Faculty Council meeting of January 22, 2001 (D 1129-1131), were then approved by voice vote.

III.
COMMUNICATION WITH THE PRESIDENT.

A. Comments by the President.

President Faulkner was unable to attend the meeting.

B. Questions to the President.

Barbara Harlow (English) informed members of a new anti-abortion exhibit in front of Gregory Gymnasium, sponsored by the student group Justice for All. Harlow said she found the exhibit offensive, and raised the issue in a question to the provost, in the absence of President Faulkner. The provost said he was aware that the exhibit was offensive to many people, and asked Patricia Ohlendorf (vice president for institutional relations and legal affairs) to comment on the legal issues involved. Ohlendorf said the exhibit was too large for the free speech area on the West Mall, and, since the University was in the process of creating a free speech area near Gregory Gym, it had been decided to allow the group to display the exhibit there. She said the administration was investigating the question of whether a non-student group was cosponsoring the exhibit.

Harlow asked if it was appropriate to introduce a motion on the subject, and it was agreed that the Council would take up consideration of such a motion at the end of New Business.

IV.
REPORT OF THE CHAIR.

Chair elect Bruce Palka (mathematics) chaired the meeting in the absence of Chair Patrick Davis (pharmacy).

V.
REPORT OF THE CHAIR ELECT.

Palka announced that the annual meeting of the Faculty Council with members of the Texas A&M Faculty Senate would be held at the University of Texas Club on March 26. He said a representative of Governor Perry's office would speak on the governor's higher education initiatives, and there would be sessions on accountability and issues in graduate education.

VI.
SPECIAL ORDERS — None.

VII.
PETITIONS — None.

VIII.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS — None.

IX.
REPORTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY, COLLEGES AND SCHOOLS, AND COMMITTEES — None.


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X.
NEW BUSINESS.

A. Proposal to Create a Two-Day Fall Break (D 1122).

On behalf of the University's Calendar Committee, Stefan Kostka (music), chair of the committee, introduced a proposal to begin fall semester classes two days earlier than has been the case, beginning on a Monday instead of a Wednesday. This would allow for a two-day fall break, which, by the proposal, would occur on the second Monday and the following Tuesday in October. See D 1122 for a full statement of the proposal.

Kostka said the request for a fall break had come from students on the committee. He said some would prefer a full-week break at Thanksgiving, but a majority on the committee felt a break nearer the beginning of the semester would be better. Possibilities considered included holding classes on Labor Day, but this was rejected because of the problems it would create, especially for staff.

Marvin Hackert (chemistry and biochemistry) said the proposal would cause problems for lab courses in his department. Hackert and Executive Vice Provost Monti (also chemistry and biochemistry) said the change would effectively reduce the lab time by a full week, partly because the beginning of the first week has been used to train lab assistants and partly because of the confusion generated by adds and drops. Kostka said the committee was unaware of these difficulties. Mark Alpert (marketing administration) inquired about the reasons for a new fall break. Thomas Palaima (classics) suggested that perhaps the problems for lab courses could be overcome by a creative change in scheduling for lab projects. Then, in answer to Alpert's question, Palaima said he favored the proposal, believing it was important that students have time to read, think, and work on reports. Daron Roberts (student government) also spoke in favor of the proposal.

Robert Schmidt (theatre and dance) asked if starting the fall semester two days earlier would be in conflict with the definition of the nine-month contract. Kostka thought it would not, since the spring semester ends before the end of May.

David Maidment (civil engineering) and Mark Alpert thought it would be good to poll faculty on the question before the March meeting. Provost Ekland-Olson said his office could help do that by working through deans and department chairs. Michael Churgin (law) said he had simply invited input from his colleagues in the School of Law with an email message. Paul (Randy) Thompson (student representative) said that the student government had established a place on its web site for students to register their opinions. The secretary pointed out that, because the proposal was classified as major legislation, anything approved by the Council would be circulated to the General Faculty on a no-protest basis.

The secretary asked how the proposed break would relate to OU weekend, and Carol Holmgreen (associate registrar) said it would come directly after that for the next several years but could also be a week later. The secretary wasn't sure either arrangement was a good thing. Thompson made a case for ignoring OU weekend in considering about the break.

B.

Proposal to Increase Student Involvement in the Hiring Process of Tenure-Track Faculty (D 1123-1124).

Katy Zarolia (student), on behalf of the Cabinet of College Councils, introduced the proposal for student involvement in the hiring of new faculty through one or more of the following options, to be decided by each school, college, or department: (1) A candidate would give a lecture open to all students; information about the candidate would be made available, and student opinion would be solicited. (2) A candidate would meet informally with students, information about the


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candidate would be made available, and student opinion would be solicited. (3) One undergraduate or graduate student (or both) would be included as a voting member on each tenure-track faculty selection committee. As with the fall break proposal, this was classified as major legislation.

Marvin Hackert favored some form of student involvement in hiring, but questioned the wording of part (3) of the proposal. Elizabeth Richmond-Garza (English) favored the spirit of the proposal, but suggested it might be good to have an option that did not go as far as option (3). Martha Hilley (music) said that it was difficult to get student participation for lunches and informal meetings with candidates. Gerard Béhague (music) expressed concern about how students would be chosen, and said that assessing candidates required knowledge and experience. Cynthia Shelmerdine (classics) said she had seen student involvement work well, but questioned how the students would be chosen. Joyce Banks (graduate student assembly) pointed out that some units already involve graduate students, and asked if this process might lead to those being replaced by undergraduates. Zarolia said that if the candidates were to teach undergraduates, then undergraduates should be represented in the process. Steve Monti pointed out that eleven of the schools and colleges had both graduates and undergraduates, so this could lead to at least two students on each committee.

Barbara Harlow was also concerned about how students would be chosen, since in her department students are already involved and they are elected, not chosen through procedures that had been suggested in the proposal's details. Mike Starbird (mathematics) asked if the proposers had rejected a suggestion by the Council's Executive Committee that student committee members could be non-voting members; the answer was that the suggestion had been rejected. John Walthall (student, Cabinet of College Councils) pointed out that student membership on hiring committees was optional. The secretary said he thought it was very important that students be given an opportunity to comment on the quality of instruction, and that the administration take those comments seriously; however, he was strongly opposed to student membership on hiring committees, given the background required to make good tenure decisions in a major research university such as UT Austin. Palaima was also opposed to having student members, being especially concerned about the potential for coercion of students on such committees.

Robert Schmidt said his department often sought student input, but it was tailored to each case; he believed this legislation would be too restrictive. Ward Keeler (anthropology) said his department used student members on committees, but it had never been clear who they were representing, themselves or some larger constituency, and he did not see that this legislation would clarify that. Janice Todd (kinesiology and health education) pointed out that hiring decisions are made by budget councils, not search committees.

C. Emergency Resolution on Campus Exhibit

Following up on the issue she had raised earlier in the meeting, Barbara Harlow moved that the Council vote to endorse the following statement: "Be it resolved that the Faculty Council of UT Austin finds offensive the Justice for All display currently exhibited outside Gregory Gymnasium and requests that it be removed immediately."

Following the rules on proposals not circulated before a meeting, the Council first voted that Harlow's motion could be introduced as emergency legislation. (After a question from a member, it was determined that a quorum was present at the time of that vote.) Mark Alpert said he thought the exhibit was, visually, the most offensive thing he had seen on the campus, but he was unsure of the proper way to deal with his and Harlow's concerns. Was it a question of what was said or how it was said, and how did it involve the right to free speech?

 

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Starbird said he had not seen the exhibit (as was true for many others), so he was not sure how to respond. Palaima said the free speech issue was paramount, and he faulted the University's decision to hastily declare an area other than the West Mall as a free speech area, especially an area that was so prominent and difficult for some to avoid.

Robert Koons (philosophy) pointed out that the purpose of the First Amendment was to protect offensive expression, and that expression that was not offensive did not need protection. He did not see that outside sponsorship should be a big issue, since groups such as Young Democrats and Young Republicans clearly had outside connections.

The secretary read a statement from Michael Churgin, who had left to teach, in which Churgin wrote that "as long as the exhibit is consistent with free speech area rules, it would be a violation of the First Amendment for the University to regulate the exhibit based on its content."

Laura Starks (finance) said she found the exhibit offensive, in part because of its size, and asked if there was no limit on size. Laura Luthy (staff association representative) said that she objected to not having a choice about whether to see the exhibit, because of its size and unavoidable location.

Harlow said she had no intention of violating free speech rights, and thought perhaps the exhibit could be taken down until the status and definition of the new free speech area was clarified. The provost said he took it as a concern of the Council that the administration needed to clarify the boundaries of the free speech area.

At this point in the discussion, the question of a quorum was raised again, and a count showed there was not a quorum.

XI.
ANNOUNCEMENTS AND COMMENTS — None.

XII.
QUESTIONS TO THE CHAIR — None.

XIII.
ADJOURNMENT.

The meeting adjourned at 3:50




Distributed through the Faculty Council web site (www.utexas.edu/faculty/council/) on March 7, 2001. Copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, FAC 22, F9500.